School annexation requirements could be eased

/ 29 March 2012 / jennifer

Erin Schmidtke, Session Daily, March 29, 2012 –

Residents of a northeast Edina neighborhood live within the Hopkins school district, which means their children must ride the bus further than if they were able to attend school in Edina. Rep. Keith Downey (R-Edina) sponsorsHF2939, which would ease the process for residents like these to become part of their hometown school districts.

The House passed the bill 73-57 and sent it to the Senate where Sen. Geoff Michel (R-Edina) is the sponsor.

Currently, for the neighborhood to be annexed into the Edina district, it would have to receive approval from both the Hopkins and Edina school boards. Under the bill, neighborhoods that want to change districts would only need approval from the annexing district. This proposed change would only apply to those who live in the seven-county Twin Cities metropolitan area.

Republicans spoke in support of the bill, saying that it would allow increased local control for families whose property taxes fund schools their children are unable to attend.

“This is a bill that smells a heck of a lot like freedom. It allows parents to petition their government to find the right place for their kids to go to school,” said Rep. Kelby Woodard (R-Belle Plaine).

DFLers voiced opposition, saying that the bill would bypass the jurisdiction of local school boards. They also warned that the bill could have broad-reaching negative consequences.

“The point is this could really set in motion a bad situation where you have districts directly or indirectly trying to raid one another’s tax bases,” said Rep. Steve Simon (DFL-St. Louis Park). He worried that could create unnecessary conflict between neighborhoods.

Rep. Tom Anzelc (DFL-Balsam Township) spoke as the sole DFLer to support a “yes” vote.

“These are two silk stocking districts and I’ve learned that wealth always prevails. I am sure these parents and citizens and school boards and, at the end, the county board will figure this out,” he said.

– Erin Schmidtke

http://www.house.leg.state.mn.us/hinfo/sessiondaily.asp?storyid=3126